The quest to find a tailor who can stitch the perfect saree blouse is often a struggle for many Indian women. “Too tight”, “too loose” or “it’s not fitted” are just a few of the complaints I have had time and time again, but these woes were over once I discovered the fabulous House Of Blouse.
House Of Blouse is a one of a kind online shop built for women to create, design and customize their blouse through an in-built web-app called the ‘Style Creator.’ This brilliant concept was the brain child of Bangalore based, Rachana Reddy and Roopa Reddy who like us experienced similar frustrations.
Shoppers are given the luxury to select any blouse style, sleeve, neckline, length and more according to their tastes and budgets. Choose your fabric or fabrics from their colourful gallery and work away. In just a few simple clicks you have created your dream blouse.
In just a little over a year, the online startup has come an incredibly long way. The compliments are flowing in from all corners of the world. Women are embracing the platform and now with a striking saree collection, the team are destined for a very bright future.
Being a huge fan of House Of Blouse, I caught up with Rachana and Roopa to learn more about their success story.
Tell us a little about yourselves and how you fell into the fashion industry?
Rachana: I got accepted into a well-known engineering college as soon as I completed my pre-degree, but my heart wasn’t into it. So I took the risk to drop out of the college and pursue my creative calling in fashion design, specialising in accessory design. After I graduated from the London College Of Fashion, I launched my own label ‘Rachana Reddy Accessories.’ I wanted to do more and was bubbling with ideas and concepts, and from one of those ideas, House Of Blouse was born.
Roopa: I went to college study a Bachelors in Architecture, but soon after made the switch to work for an early startup in their Marketing/Corporate Communications department. After a long stint living in the United States, I returned to India and enrolled into a Fashion Design course. We often discussed starting an online venture. And while I was working for another company, Rachana told me about this brilliant idea for customised blouses online and I got on board with it.
What has the response been like so far?
The response has been great with marketing effort being primarily on social media. The best part of it has been the feedback. Hearing from our customers who are thrilled with their products and the ease of ordering a custom blouse online. We were really kicked when a customer recently stated “The designing experience was exciting! It’s like Xbox for girls!”
Currently, what are the most popular styles of sari blouses and do you have a particular favourite?
Roopa: Our yellow sheer boatneck blouse sells like hotcakes and seems to be the most popular ‘Ready To Shop’ style. But boatneck styles in general have been our best sellers. Rachana’s favourites are collared sleeveless hi-neck and the mirrored corsets as they can be styled in a myriad fun ways. Me on the other hand likes the ‘Criss Cross Crop Top.’ This style is so versatile and comfortable and looks the best when made in a floral lycra lace fabric.
How and where do you source your material?
Our head of sourcing is Radhika Reddy. She does all the hunting down of all manner of fabrics and always keeps an eye out for fabric trends and sources. We are sourcing fabrics from Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi right now. We also custom order a lot of our fabrics. We have big plans in the future for getting traditional fabrics from all regions of India among others.
Is there an art to designing a sari blouse? What sort of advice could you give to women stuck on what style to choose?
We have a few helpful articles on blouses for different body types as well different occasions on our blog. But I think easiest way is to start with an idea of if you want a bold and skimpy style like a halter neck or spaghetti strapped style or a conservative style like a sweetheart or a U-neck. Or even a mid way balance, like a conservative neckline, but a sleeveless style.
Once you have made this selection, go on to experiment away with various fabrics. We have seen some really unique fabrics combinations by some of our customers.
Don’t shy away from using a different fabric for the sleeves, collars and armbands. Our Style Creator makes it very easy to try out different fabric combinations and see what they look like before investing and ordering them.
You’ve recently launched a beautiful sari collection. Tell us a little about the sari styles you have available and what has been popular?
We had a lot of people ask us to carry saree pairings and options as sometimes they don’t have anything to pair their HOB blouse with. So we launched a small collection of sarees some months back with pre-designed blouse pairings and received a good response immediately.
We started off with versatile drapes made out of satin, crepe and georgette. As the last festive and wedding season came by, we introduced Gadwal pure silks and silk cottons which have been sourced directly from a weaver in Gadwal.
There are also lightweight kota silks which look festive and are great if you don’t want to wear a heavy saree. Our limited collection of leheriya sarees have been very popular thus far and we still receive requests for those.
What do you think will be the hottest trends with sari blouses over the upcoming seasons? Will the mix and match trend continue?
Sari blouse styles have evolved in recent times. People are investing in interesting, well crafted and versatile blouses, which can be paired in a number of ways, for instance with the obvious choice, a saree, a lehenga, as a crop top and even with palazzos. The mix and match trend is spreading to all corners of India. I recently heard of an aunt in a remote village who gives a separate contrasting blouse piece while gifting a saree (which comes with it’s own blouse piece) and advises “Please stitch the contrast one as nobody uses the blouse pieces which come with a saree anymore.”
The sheer yoke trend is really hot at the moment and looks like it will stay awhile. With a myriad of options in yokes, such as cutwork and netted thread work, such blouses can even mimic the trendy Maharani style blouse.
“Maharani” style hey? Like the sound of that! Aside from India, where else in the world are your customers based?
We have had a lot of interest from the United States, that being one of our biggest consumer base of late. But we have had orders from UK, Canada, Singapore and Middle East as well. The most interesting being a bridesmaids package ordered by a customer in UK using the same fabric for all 6 of the bridesmaids but customised as per individual styles, necklines, sleeve lengths and, of course, the measurements.
What’s your style philosophy?
We are big on individuality and believe that everyone should have a chance to express their own individuality and originality. We LOVE a lot of our customer creations and often ask ourselves, “Hey, how come we didn’t think of that?” It’s such a treat to see unique customer creations on a daily basis.
So getting back to your question, our personal style philosophy would be to be true to who you are, colour outside the lines, experiment endlessly, don’t get influenced easily and find your own style!
Well said. Finally, what are the top 3 reasons why women should order a sari blouse from House Of Blouse?
The ease and convenience of the entire process. You can order the exact style of blouse you want sitting in your PJ’s, and have it delivered to your doorstep. Spares you from running around, picking fabrics and dealing with tailors. You no longer need to conjure up your entire design in your head or go a designer to have it done. You can visualise your design using our ‘Style Creator’ and you can play with designs endlessly before you decide and order.
Last but not least, you don’t have to worry about ordering styles as bold and experimental or as big or small as you please, without anybody else giving you their two cents of unasked for advice.
Welcome to The Maharani Diaries, Rachana and Roopa and the entire team at House Of Blouse! Congratulations on your success so far and all the very best for your future endeavours. Cannot wait to work with you on future projects.
For further information, follow the links over in our vendor directory.
Stay tuned for our fashion editorial featuring two gorgeous saree blouses from House Of Blouse!